What is important to me is to integrate the learning from Zen Coaching in people’s practice and experience. To me it isn’t something very spiritual, out of touch with reality. It’s an approach focused on how to bring specific benefits into a person’s life: How to make a desired transformation in your relation to yourself and to others or to life. I combine this beautiful – both practical and philosophical – approach to specific, everyday challenges. Let’s start with what consciousness is. It sounds very spiritual. And yes, Zen Coaching is inspired from the tradition of Zen Buddhism. Many people think Zen Buddhism is a religion, but that’s not how I understand Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is a 1000 year old wisdom about how to approach life in a way that creates less suffering. Zen is knowledge on how we create our own suffering, how we can stop doing so, and how we can begin to live more in happiness and peace instead. I want to stress that Zen Coaching has nothing to do with a religion, it is a very practical approach, focusing on how to get in touch with our inner life understand it better and, form a peaceful relationship to ourselves and other people more easily. Consciousness is necessary to see what our inner world actually looks like, to recognize our feelings and to understand what is happening inside us.
A lot of people live as if they were asleep. They don’t think about their lives, they are not aware of how they actually function. Many people go through life with blind convictions regarding what is right and what is wrong, without considering whether these convictions support them and others in a fulfilling life. When I say consciousness, I mean that awakening, I mean that looking at the way I look at my life and what I believe in – waking up to my ideas and asking what about this is really true and what is not. The more you develop this consciousness and mindfulness of looking at life, the more you will start noticing that you are not your convictions, you are not your thoughts, and sometimes you can even experience that you are not your body, not your family, nor a career position. You will start experiencing that you are an awakened free presence. I know that this might sound very spiritual, but it is, at the same time, a very direct practical experience of inner space. The better you see your emotional patterns and convictions, the more you look at them from outside, the more you gain distance from them. And in this distance, more clarity and freedom is born in you. Then a wisdom that understands reality better expands in you; a wisdom that deals with life more easily than when you are completely absorbed by your feelings and identified with your ideas.
There are many areas of life where this is happening. For example let’s look at money. Let’s look at people who are sure that money is, in a sense, dirty. Some people have many negative ideas about money, i.e. they think that rich people got their money by exploiting others. At the same time, these people might not understand that these are only their ideas and not the full reality. It is just one of the ways of looking at reality. If you completely identify with these ideas, you treat money in a certain way. The way you see it affects your behavior around it: You do not want to look at money or see the principles that rule money. You might feel resistance to looking at your bank account, push relating to money in your life aside. In a sense, it is like you are sleeping. You do not see that you have these ideas, you do not see how they influence your life, you are not aware of them. In this area of your life you are in avoidance. When a person like that comes for the session of Zen Coaching, the process of awakening of consciousness begins. Supported by the Zen Coach they will be able to see their ideas and the way they affect their lives. They start seeing their own approach to money, from a distance and they have more space in themselves. They begin to gain a new freer perspective and that is what awakening of consciousness means in Zen Coaching, gaining the distance towards the problem. Once you have that distance, you wake up and understand better: ‘Alright, when I have such and such idea, this idea influences my life in such and such way and it actually does not serve me well. So maybe I will give myself more freedom and I will look for ideas that serve me better, for more supportive ways of looking at life.’ What will happen if I look at it in a different way? Were the ideas I had up until now actually true? Has every rich person really gained their wealth by using others? You might start becoming curious, as to where your idea that money is dirty comes from. What approach did your parents have? What is the source of your conviction? The more consciousness you have, the more space you create around the issue, the more ease and feelings of distance and liberating curiosity can appear. You are starting to learn about yourself, you are becoming curious about yourself, instead of avoiding the issue. It is a kind of an awakening of consciousness and thanks to the awakening, you get to know yourself better and you become better able to solve your own problems because you begin to see the bigger picture of what is going on in a peaceful non-reactive way.
During a session of Zen Coaching, I am mostly in a state of relaxed curiosity and allowance. Through open non guiding questions, I support my clients in exploring themselves. Instead of fixing and solving problems we open up the challenge and we try to recognize what is going on. We do not attempt to solve the problem before we have an intimate understanding and recognition of what the challenge is about. We do that in an atmosphere of allowing anything, without attaching ourselves to any idea of what direction our search is supposed to go. When your way of treating yourself and the challenges is free from the will to fix or change yourself, but full of open allowing curiosity instead, then you get to know yourself better, you gain a deeper contact with what is really important to you and the solutions often appear on their own. As long as you fight the challenge, as long as you want the problem to disappear, as long as you are trying to solve it, change it and fix it, you are not allowing the problem to show you its solution on its own. So during a session of Zen Coaching we leave the idea of fixing, solving a problem or reaching a goal and instead we help people to let the challenges in life teach them what they long for and support them to get closer to themselves. The benefit of it is that a person starts treating their challenges in such a way not only during a session, but also in their lives. So taking part in a Zen Coaching session one does not only solve their problems, not only learns about themselves, but also gains a new way of treating oneself, which is much more nourishing, full of love towards oneself, and helpful in how we can cope with challenges, and support our lives in moving towards more fulfilment.
In Zen Coaching we do not give any specific advice. During the Zen Coaching training we teach several approaches to life. One of them is about stopping. Usually when we do not feel grounded in ourselves, it is so because we are rushing. And usually once we stop, there is immediately some kind of relief, an outbreath. It is very, very useful to STOP. A part of the escape from oneself is the assumption that what we have right here and now is not good enough, that we should be in a different place. So part of the main training as a Zen Coach is to stop and recognize what is here and now. What feelings are in me in this very moment? We see if we can notice them and meet them with allowance. What are the colours of where I am? What do I feel in the body? The stopping often immediately brings the peace many people long for in their life.